Feu Follet, Pierre Pilarski’s second masterpiece?


Horse owners sometimes have somewhat similar trajectories to singers. They work in the shadows, long before a horse speaks for them. Their hit, their tube, the one that immediately pushed them into the Top 10 and to which they will always be linked. In the collective unconscious of the equestrian microcosm, Pierre Pilarski was and will undoubtedly always be the man of Bold Eagle. A son of Ready Cash as prolific in the ring as he was at the stallion. A UFO that allowed the “French fries seller”, as he defines himself, to access the highest equestrian spheres, the frenzy of the runners and the continuous pressures of the press. But what is left once the glory is over? This is the question we asked Pierre Pilarski this Monday morning after Poules d’Essai, in which the 60-year-old had an appetizer.

“I took remedial lessons with Guillaume Macaire”

“It always bothered me, when I watched Equidia, to skip every other race. So I told myself I’d try to see it, begins, talking about his turn at a gallop. And the obstacle has always seemed more accessible to me; not just financially but in terms of understanding. So I bought half a lot from Jean-Pierre Dubois, whom I had met at the trot, in which there was Feu Follet, Fiumicino, Fandango and two AQPS which were then resold in England, at the end of 2018 “.

Frank you start,and man he tells with pleasure at the end of the line. “I knew there was a lot on sale … Finally, Jean-Pierre is still a seller, he is a trader as well as a competitor, and luckily otherwise I would never have Feu Follet, I would never have Making Moovies, not I would have never had Bold Eagle. This is Dubois breeding, father and son, in the plural. But earlier, a few weeks earlier, I had bought a small end of an obstacle horse that was for sale and was going to Guillaume Macaire. And then, I decided to go a little further with this lot from Jean-Pierre Dubois, and I asked Guillaume Macaire to go and see the lot and he said: it’s very good. So I bought half the lot from Jean-Pierre, and a few months later, we bought back its stake with Guillaume Macaire. That’s why today I have 75% of Feu Follet and Guillaume 25%. “

An almost fortuitous and decisive encounter with the western star tuner, which pushes the sports enthusiast to another challenge. Which prompts him to start over. “Compared to the trot, the sensations and emotions weren’t all that different, actually. Because there is a notion of education and training in the trot and in the obstacle. The plate is much finer. This is something I understand, it is sport, training, education, gymnastics, adaptation. The obstacle is perhaps even easier for me to understand just at the trot because there is a gymnastic side, a dressage side, that is sport. When you swim, you do lengths, but you also need technique, repetitions. In the jumps, genetics also count, but much less than on the plate. I really liked it and I won’t hide it, also meeting Guillaume Macaire. It was more than a meeting, a relationship, because it is a great trainer, but above all a great teacher, we do not hesitate to ask him the simplest questions, even the most foolish ones because he loves to share. I have the impression, in three years, that I have had a permanent update. He has allowed me to follow courses intensive, remedial courses “.

Together, the two men thus bond an intense professional relationship, as the owner had already had with Sébastien Guarato and Jean-Pierre Dubois, but also human. “I think Guillaume is a curious person, in everything. And I think he enjoyed seeing this owner and that he still amuses him. Even this, you meet him. I think we have a privileged relationship, even a very privileged one, and it is very pleasant. This meeting is really something that has marked me. I have enormous faith in him and I think it is mutual. “

“When Guillaume Macaire saw Feu Follet, he immediately told me he was an exceptional horse”

Bullfighting, art, animal viewing and sports, the points in common between the two men are as vast as their respective experiences. But beyond the friendly understanding, the duo also shares, and perhaps above all, a taste for the challenge, for the challenge. A passion for competition that the tandem materializes around a foal: Feu Follet. “When I buy the lot, Guillaume explains to me that it is very good and that he thinks there is an exceptional horse in the lot.” What is the wood with which we make high-level horses? he told me. It doesn’t.Tell me we’re going to do the Grand Steeplechase but that a Grand Steeplechase horse looks a bit like that. At that moment, I didn’t say anything to myself. I don’t even know what a Grand Steeple really stands for. I don’t know the program. It’s crazy, moreover, because the first few times he talks to you about Prix Congress, Cambacérès, etc., it meant nothing to me. “He often gave me the path of what an obstacle or obstacle horse should do. Today, if you give me a name , I think I know more or less if it’s obstacle or obstacle, but I’m not even sure! I would have raced at a high level. um, I don’t think I tell myself anything. I got carried away. “

Modest in his speeches, humble, as in each of his public outings, however, the owner recognizes that he has learned a lot from the experience of Bold Eagle. But, implicitly, we also feel a little tired in his speech. At least automation. The feeling of an almost professional ballet: get informed, decide, explain it to the press, decipher it, inform the participants in the competition. In fact, when he tries his hand at this new discipline, the owner wants to start all over again. Relive her first love, the whole process. Thus, with Feu Follet, Pierre Pilarski relies on the experience of his mentor, his master of obstacles. And despite some fears, such as this spectacular three-year escape at the Clairefontaine-Deauville racecourse, the colt takes the lead. And titles. First on the obstacles, with the Four Year-Old Spring Hurdle Race – Alain du Breil Prize in the temple of obstacles, Auteuil, then on the “big ones”, with a fantastic 2021 season.

But in 2022 the bar is higher. It couldn’t be taller, too, as the seven-year-old will try his luck against the best in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris. With real luck. A new milestone for Pierre Pilarski, multi-titled trotter, and a potential consecration for his coach. Guillaume Macaire, now associated with Hector de Lageneste, his future successor. “This year, I think our main opponent is Macaire’s other, Sel Jem, analyze the owner. It is not just these two, of course, but this Grand Steeple represents something very important for Guillaume, it is a seventh victory that would allow him to be the sole and absolute Grand Steeple record holder as “manager”. I would like to give it to him, it would be truly magical. Sel Jem is five, he has time to win (laughs)! I am not saying it will be the last for us, but Feu Follet is seven years old, but it is already his third Grand Steeplechase, we can clearly see that we are not immune to a physical glitch. It is still difficult for organizations. So I think it’s definitely his year of him. We arrive at a good pace, the horse is cool. He has only one obstacle course in his legs after his return from Compiègne (note: the Prix Ingré, preparatory race, which he won on April 30), he knows the route perfectly, he ran two Grand Steeples, two La Haye Jousselins, he was third two years ago, second to La Haye Jousselin two years ago … Without her little physical flaws, I think we could have won La Haye Jousselin last year … Le Grand Steeple, I can’t say, because we were still in the race when he expelled Baptiste (Le Clerc). The horse is good, we saw in preparation that he could look Sel Jem in the eyes of him, even though he ran wisely. I think my horse will be ridden and we can beat the favorite. “

An optimism that pushes until the end of the exercise: “If I am a meteorologist, I put Sel Jem in the position of favorite, and in ambush Feu Follet. And then, of course, Nicolle’s Has (note: Niko Has). You don’t run alone, but I think this fills the boxes, so I’ll have a lot of pressure there because there’s a lot behind it. “

Winner of the Prix d’Amérique, perhaps soon of the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, the businessman known for his McDonald’s restaurant franchise seems unstoppable. While? “I am sure that I will never win the Arc de Triomphe, he continues, no longer convinced, before supporting his statement: because I am almost certain I will never run it. Why ? Because I will never have the means to buy a horse potentially capable of running the Arc. And even though a big stroke of luck meant I had one, I couldn’t afford not to sell it sooner. If a horse like Making Moovies, for example, had won the Poule d’Essai on Sunday, I wouldn’t have had the means to refuse purchase offers. Therefore the question of the Arch does not arise. Maybe one day I’ll have the chance to run and win the Poule d’Essai but never an Arc de Triomphe or a Jockey Club. “

But dhere is another deadline waiting for the owner onracecourseAuteuil. More than a Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, Pierre Pilarski could write a new page in history. For Guillaume Macaire, of course, but also for him who could, after Daniel Wildenstein, be one of the rare title holders in the most beautiful races in two different disciplines.

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